Things to Note, May 29th

Afghan government says Taliban attack on checkpoint kills 14

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters attacked an army checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, killing 14 military personnel, the Defense Ministry said Friday.

The Taliban took responsibility for Thursday’s attack in Paktia province, calling it a “defensive action,” without elaborating.

Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghanistan national security adviser’s office, said despite sporadic clashes, a truce in effect during the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ended Tuesday, would continue.

COVID-19 Epidemic Poses Greatest Threat to Cambodia’s Development in 30 Years:  World Bank

PHNOM PENH, May 29, 2020—The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Cambodia’s main drivers of economic growth—tourism, manufacturing exports, and construction—which together account for more than 70 percent of the country’s growth and almost 40 percent of paid employment. As a result, the economy in 2020 is expected to register its slowest growth since 1994, contracting by between -1 percent and -2.9 percent, according to Cambodia in the Time of COVID-19, the World Bank’s latest Economic Update for Cambodia.

Poverty in 2020 could increase among households involved in key sectors like tourism, construction, trade, manufacturing and the garment industry by between 3 to 11 percentage points higher than at baseline, or in the absence of COVID-19. The fiscal deficit could reach its highest level in 22 years.

The collapse of growth drivers has hurt economic growth and put at least 1.76 million jobs at risks. The report also warns that capital inflows are tapering off, which in turn is triggering the easing of real estate market prices, likely ending the construction boom. With the current large outstanding credit to the construction, real estate, and mortgage sector, nonperforming loans could rise.

Greece to open airports to arrivals from 29 countries from June 15

ATHENS: Greece said Friday it would reopen its airports in Athens and Thessaloniki to arrivals from 29 countries from June 15, the start of the tourist season.

Visitors would be allowed to fly into Greece from 16 EU countries, including Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Baltic countries, Cyprus and Malta, the tourism ministry said in a statement.

But countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic — such as France, Spain, Britain and Italy — were not on the list.

Outside the European Union, holidaymakers from Switzerland, Norway, and neighbouring Balkan countries such as Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia will be allowed to land at Greece’s main airports from June 15.

The list also includes Australia, Japan, Israel, Lebanon, China, New Zealand and South Korea.

The ministry said that further countries could be added before July 1 when the country’s regional airports also reopen.

Malian Farmers Adapt to Climate Change, Improve Water Use, Crop Yield and Livelihood Using Nuclear Techniques

In the semi-arid Sahel region of Segou in central Mali, small-holder farmers often struggle to provide enough food for the area’s growing population, and rainfall pattern changes due to climate change are acerbating their hardship. The IAEA is working with scientists in this region to improve food security using climate-smart agricultural techniques to enhance water management and improve soil fertility. Since 2014, the IAEA, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has provided expert advice, laboratory and field equipment and consumables on the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques to track fertilizer and water use efficiency. Participating farmers have reported a 37% increase in crop yield and a 43% reduction in water use for irrigation.

The 500 small-holder farmers, mostly women, have turned previously low-yielding lands into fertile agricultural plots, said Justin Diallo, Head of the Statistical Office, Monitoring, Evaluation and Communication at the Regional Directorate of Agriculture in Ségou.

North Koreans charged for breaching nuclear sanctions

The US Department of Justice revealed on Thursday that it had issued a criminal indictment order against 28 North Korean and five Chinese citizens for processing at least $2.5 billion in illegal payments to North Korea to avoid US sanctions.

The North Korean nationals in the list include employees of North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank and a former member of the country’s intelligence bureau. Foreign Trade Bank was added to a sanctions list and blocked from the US financial system in 2013. If convicted, the individuals would have to forfeit all property or proceeds traced to the laundered amount.

The indictment, which was signed in February, said that the network of North Korean and Chinese nationals maintained “over 250 front companies” in countries like Kuwait, China, Russia, Thailand and Austria to process US dollar payments to North Korea. The Justice Department said that the money was used to buy goods for North Korea, evade US sanctions, enable North Korean entities to transact in US dollars, and to “enrich” themselves.

Russia reports record one-day rise in coronavirus deaths

Russia on May 29 reported 232 deaths from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a record one-day amount that pushed the nationwide death toll to 4,374.

Officials said 8,572 new infections had been confirmed, bringing the national tally to 387,623, the third highest reported total in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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